As I boarded the 5.50pm train from Paddington to Oxford yesterday, I regretted my foolish agreement to speak at the Oxford Union that night. I was never a debater as a student. I had found the formality and self-importance of the Cambridge Union in the 1980s unattractive, and instead put my spare energies into student journalism. But now, at last, I was going to have to clamber into black tie – and go through the whole rigmarole of “points of information” and “Mr President, I beg to oppose the motion”.
I think I only agreed, months ago, because I was aware the debate was taking place just before my book is published (it’s out on Monday), and I was working on the “any publicity” principle. But now I found myself heading for Oxford – knackered, unprepared, not even sure which side of the motion I was speaking on, and with my head full of images of jeering hoorays in white tie. Read more